Assistant Professor Federica Goffi
fills a blind spot in current architectural theory and practice with this book, Time Matter(s): Invention and Re-Imagination in Built Conservation: The Unfinished Drawing and Building of St. Peter's, the Vatican
(Routledge, 2013). In proposing a hybrid approach which merges architectural and conservation theory the work offers the reader a counter-viewpoint to common understandings of preservation as singular moment from the past which has been frozen and brought forward to the present.
Through a micro-historical study of a Renaissance concept of restoration, a theoretical framework to question the issue of conservation as a creative endeavor arises. It focuses on Tiberio Alfarano's 1571 ichnography of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, into which a complex body of religious, political, architectural and cultural elements is woven. By merging past and present temple's plans, Alfarano created a track-drawing questioning the design pursued after Michelangelo's death (1564), opening the gaze towards other possible future imaginings. Federica Goffi book further uncovers how the drawing was acted on by Carlo Maderno (1556-1629), who literally used it as physical substratum to for new design proposals, completing the renewal of the temple in 1626.
This research shows how architectural and conservation practices can be merged in contemporary renovation. By creating hybrid drawings, the retrospective and prospective gaze of built conservation forms a continuous and contiguous reality, where a pre-existent condition engages with future design joining multiple temporalities within a continuity of identity. The study might provide a paradigmatic and timely model to retune contemporary architectural sensibility when transforming a building of recognized significance.
Brant Matthew Tate